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SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
You Can't Stand on Principles When You're in Retreat

Swan Song of the Democrats

by MIKE WHITNEY

The Democrats did us all a favor by giving Bush his Iraq war-money. After all, the Dems have supported the war from the get-go; so why not expose them as the hypocrites they really are?

The truth is, no one is really surprised by Friday’s vote. We have one party in America"the War Party—the Dems are merely a junior partner in that system.

It boggles the mind that so many so-called "liberals" continue to be hoodwinked by the Democratic Party. After all, what do they offer—a slight boost in the hourly wage? Better management of foreign massacres?!?

But, what else? The Democrats are even giving ground on a women’s "right to choose", which, up until now, had been their one defining issue. Now even that is eroding.

So, what do the Democrats really stand for?

This is not the party of F.D.R., my friend. This is the party of Bill Clinton, the Master of Triangulation. Clinton was nothing more than the flip-side of George Bush. The bombing of Belgrade was as big a crime as Shock and Awe–although it was cleverly masked behind Clinton’s "Aw shucks" charm and the ever-compliant media.

Clinton sold out the American worker by passing NAFTA. He dismantled the social safety net with his Welfare Reform. He destroyed the last vestiges of the free media by signing the Telecommunications Act. And he revealed his utter lack of principle by refusing to sign the Land Mines Treaty—a document that would have saved the lives of thousands of children every year.

Smart guy—no principles.

Clinton never did anything that wasn’t politically calculated. Hell, he probably had his slide-rule out during his visits with Monica to figure out the exact amount of gratification he could have without feeling guilty. Sure, he was bright and good natured but, his critics are also right–he was utterly devoid of principle. And yet, this is the Democratic Party’s "big hero"; a man who has become the shining example for the future leaders in the party.

What a disaster!

The Democratic Party is not the party that people think it is. This is the party of Rahm Emanuel and the DLC. The leadership is unwaveringly pro-war, pro Israel, and pro free trade. There’s no room for anything else. The Democrats have no intention withdrawing from Iraq. That’s just speculation on the part of blindly-optimistic voters who still believe that their voices will be heard. They won’t be heard. The Democrats will NEVER get us out of Iraq.

The real position of the Dems on Iraq is even MORE IMMORAL than the Republicans. They want to redeploy outside of the country while reducing the number of troops on the ground. In other words, they want to build a "sustainable" model for stealing the world’s second largest petroleum reserves.

It’s a more discreet strategy than Bush’s bloody "surge", but is any less immoral?

It would be better for the country if the Democratic Party just called it quits and disbanded right now. (although, they appear to be doing a pretty good job of that already)

The party is a bigger obstacle to progressive reform and systemic change than the Republicans.

As long as the Dems continue to trick people into believing that they represent substantive change–or even a serious defense of their vital economic interests–the charade will persist and things will get worse.

Real progressive reform should address the central issues facing, not only Americans, but the entire world—nuclear proliferation, global warming, peak oil, population growth, food supply and disease.

Reform isn’t even part of the Democrat’s agenda. Like their Republican counterparts, they are primarily focused on enriching corporate donors, facilitating free trade, and chasing shadowy Islamic groups through Central Asia and the Middle East.

Real reform would restore progressive taxation by reinstating the brackets that were used during the early 1950s; that is, everyone making over $200,000 per year ($1 million by today’s standards) pays 93% of their earnings! Without a concerted effort to narrow the massive wealth gap through redistribution"the country will continue along its present path to tyranny. Those who have benefited most from the security, infrastructure and prosperity provided by state should naturally pay more. That is the fundamental tenet of progressive taxation and it is essential if we want to strengthen the middle class and "raise all boats" (as the Republicans like to say)

Besides, who’s going to lose sleep over taxing the rich?

A progressive platform should also include a plan to nationalize the oil industry. The record profits from oil production should be going into infrastructure, education and alternate fuels—not fattening the foreign banks accounts of obscenely rich oil moguls. In an age of resource scarcity, we cannot allow the market to decide who will get access to the energy that everyone needs to maintain minimal standards of comfort.

We’ve already seen how big oil is willing to use our children as cannon fodder in their wars of aggression. We’ve also seen how they work tirelessly to confuse the public on crucial issues such as global warming by pumping millions of dollars into bogus science and misleading public relations campaigns. The oil industry operates without a conscience putting its bottom line above the very survival of the species. The best thing to do is "return the favor" by seizing the industry"Hugo Chavez style—and putting it to work for the people it is supposed to serve. If the oil executives still choose to continue the fight for Iraqi oil; we should provide them with sidearms and Kevlar vests and turn them lose in Baghdad. Let them fend for themselves—everyone else comes home.

The country doesn’t need two War Parties run by the same establishment elites. The present system is a fraud which marginalizes 95% of the American people and makes democracy impossible. What we need is a Labor Party that addresses the issues which are critical to working class people. Labor Party affiliation should be the equivalent of union membership"providing a clear statement of support for pensions, universal health care, maternity leave, yearly wage increases tied to productivity, profit sharing, collective bargaining rights and 50% representation on all corporate boards. The goal of a Labor Party should not merely be to live off the scraps from the corporate table, but to share political power in shaping the country’s economic agenda. That’s the only way that we can balance class-based interests and avoid unnecessary future conflicts.

Anyone who thinks politics is just about "making money" is nuts. Political parties emerge to take power—and that should be the objective of Labor—raw political power. Nothing else will do.

What’s needed is a broad coalition of leftist organizations coalescing in a party that represents the objectives of working people.

Labor needs a voice in government and the Democrats are not that voice.

By capitulating to Bush, the Democratic Party has cut the ground out from beneath itself and hastened its own demise. Good riddance. Now, let’s push the rusty hulk out of the road and go forward.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com